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Tire Swing - Script

The Tire Swing follows a young man as he faces each day, tormented by half-remembered childhood traumas at the hands of a vicious cult.

Characters:
  • Tyler Gracen
  • Adrienne Tolbert
  • Gil
  • Zane
  • Lori
  • Sophia

FADE IN:

 

EXT  DESOLATE PLAIN  - (DREAM)

 

TYLER GRACEN (24), tall with sandy blonde hair, whirls round and round on the featureless plain.  A dim glow from the distant horizons provides scant light and casts no shadows.

 

Screams of the damned and dying assail his ears.  There seems to be no end to the eternal torture.

 

A KNIFE appears in the air before Tyler.  He reaches out and grasps it by the blade. Crimson blood oozes between his fingers.

With his other hand, he takes the hilt and presses the blade against his chest.

 

                                                TYLER

                There is no other choice.

 

Tyler closes his eyes and takes one last breath.

 

A voice from behind freezes him at the last instant.

 

ADRIENNE TOLBERT (24), radiantly beautiful in cutoff shorts and an AC/DC t-shirt, holds her hand out to him from her seat on a TIRE SWING.

 

The knife appears in her hand.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, I promise that I will never hurt you.

 

INT  BEDROOM - MORNING (REALITY)

 

Tyler awakens with his fists clenched against his head. Adrienne's voice echoes in his head.

 

                                                ADRIENNE (V.O.)

                I promise that I will never hurt you.

 

Tyler pulls his one sock off and tosses it at the door. It hits a homemade poster of Agent Mulder and a supermodel superimposed on an image of Stonehenge.

 

He takes a bite of a half-eaten stale donut by his computer. He brushes the crumbs carefully into his hand and throws them out the open window.

 

A poster above his computer reads, "Start your day with prayer, let go your worries and cares."

 

Tyler bows his head and closes his eyes.

                                                TYLER

                I hope today doesn't suck as bad as yesterday did.

 

EXT  APARTMENT BUILDING - MORNING

 

Tyler locks his door behind him. He drops his keys into a zipper pouch at his waist.

 

As he walks through the semi-busy morning traffic, he keeps his head low, not making much eye contact.

 

At a certain house on the corner, THE STEDMAN HOUSE, his step slows noticeably. He glances around to see if anyone noticed. Then he crosses to the other side of the street and hurries by.

 

INT  LIBRARY - NOON

 

Tyler pulls a candy bar from his zipper pouch. He glances around before quietly opening the wrapper.

 

Books surround him at the table. Several stand open, forming a wall around his space. Tyler flips a paper football into the book wall, absently chewing on his candy.

 

Without any invitation, ADRIENNE sits down at the table with Tyler. She smiles a greeting to him.

 

Tyler moves to put away his football.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No, please. Continue. Who's winning?

 

Tyler flips the paper football one last time.

 

                                                TYLER

                The other guys.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Overtime?

 

                                                TYLER

                Not even close.

 

Adrienne turns over some of the books. They are of varied subjects, ranging from The Pyramids to fantasy art.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Deep reading again today?

 

                                                TYLER

                Always.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Don't feel like talking?

 

Tyler just shrugs.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                All right. Then I'll talk. I got you a date with Sophia Campbell.

 

Tyler stops mid-chew.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Yup.

                                (twists her dark hair)

                Sophia "I'm so hot you'll need oven mitts to cop a feel" Campbell. So?

 

                                                TYLER

                So ... I don't know. I'm busy.

 

He dives into his book again.

 

Adrienne closes the book on his fingers.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler. Look at me. She's hot. You've wanted her for the last six months. She's in your sketch pad ... in all her glory. Just go for it.

 

                                                TYLER

                I can't.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Give me one good reason why not.

 

Tyler sighs and looks around to see if anyone's listening. He lowers his voice well below audible.

 

                                                TYLER

                I just can't.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You've got nothing to be afraid of. Look, I talked with her about you. She's cool with everything. Really.

 

Tyler looks at his watch.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Oh no. No, you are not going anywhere until I get a good answer from you.

 

Tyler rises from his seat, towering over Adrienne. But somehow, she seems a lot taller than him.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Sno cone time?

 

EXT  BOARDWALK - AFTERNOON

 

Tyler and Adrienne stroll casually along the Boardwalk.

 

                                                TYLER

                What if I have to work?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                When do you ever work? I thought that's what being independently wealthy got you out of.

 

                                                TYLER

                It could happen.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What? The magazine is going to lose all its copy and needs you to write two stories at the last minute? I don't think so.

 

Tyler looks out across the bay. A cool breeze sends a shiver down his spine.

 

                                                TYLER

                I had another dream.

 

Concern clouds Adrienne's eyes. She lowers her sno cone slowly from her mouth.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                How far did you go?

 

Tyler shakes his head.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Are you telling the truth? I need you to be completely honest with me now.

                                                TYLER

                Something stopped me.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Good. I don't like these suicide dreams you keep having. They're not good for you.

 

Tyler wrings his cup in his hands. Then he tosses it into the trash. Adrienne notices it's ripped in two.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm not going back to that Shrink.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I'm not asking you to.

 

                                                TYLER

                I just want to be left alone.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                When?

 

                                                TYLER

                What do you mean, "when"? All the time.

 

Adrienne slips her arm through his.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No you don't. You just don't want anyone to get close to you.

 

                                                TYLER

                And that is a problem, how?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You're a great guy. All the girls know it. Even I know it.

 

Tyler's eyes smile, but he keeps it from going farther than that.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Look, I tried to move away. I lasted what, six months?

 

                                                TYLER

                Seven and a half.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                There. You see? I couldn't stay away.

Tyler hops up on the railing overlooking the bay. He sits down and faces Adrienne.

 

                                                TYLER

                The town's a magnet. Nobody gets out.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You will.

 

                                                TYLER

                                (shaking his head)

                Too much blood on my hands. I'm destined to live and die in Macksville.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Then why do you have so many pictures on your walls? You dream of far off places. Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Ankgor Wat - and I don't even know where that is.

                                (smiling)

                You're going to get out of here.

 

Tyler hooks his feet under the railing and leans way back over the water. His shirt pulls back slightly, revealing finely toned abs ... and several nasty scars.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                But first, first you have to go on a date with little miss hottie. Then you can fly out among the stars.

 

Tyler pulls himself back up and looks deep into Adrienne's eyes. Her intense gaze shows no sign of relenting.

 

                                                TYLER

                Fine. I'll go out with Sophia. When is this grand gala planned?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tonight. I'll be waiting for your call after. Even if it's seven a.m.

 

Adrienne smiles and walks away, her confidence justified.

 

INT  SHOPPING MALL - AFTERNOON

 

SOPHIA CAMPBELL (23), drop dead gorgeous, with long hair and electric blue eyes, holds up a dress in front of her. Adrienne wrinkles her nose.

                                                SOPHIA

                No? I thought it looked cute.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You're trying for wholesome beauty, not over-the-top tramp.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hey, when you're on the top, nothing else matters.

 

Sophia picks out another outfit.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                How long do you think I could keep this one on?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                With anyone but Tyler, probably about forty-five minutes.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What's that supposed to mean?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler's different like that.

 

Sophia takes the outfit back to the fitting rooms. She grabs clothes off the rack and hands them to Adrienne.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Talk to me.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                He's a great guy. Smart. Very creative.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Cute.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Yes. Definitely cute. But ...

 

Adrienne hands clothing over the top of the changing stall to Sophia.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But what? He's a guy. They're all the same. They all want the same thing. Sex.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Not everyone.

                                                SOPHIA

                You mean not Tyler.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Yeah. Look, there's some things I need to tell you.

 

Sophia opens the door and peeks out.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He's not gay, is he? Because that would mean just a little bit more work than I want to do right now.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No, he's not gay. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that he's had this thing ... for you for a while. And I just don't want it to go bad for him.

 

Sophia tosses clothing back over the top to Adrienne.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So he's got a crush. I'm fine with that.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Just don't push it, okay?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                "Push it?" What do you mean by that?

 

She steps out of the stall, resplendent in a dazzling outfit.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I have yet to find a male of the species that won't go where I take them.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Please. Don't push him. I'm asking you as a friend.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                All right, all right. I won't push him. But what if he starts it?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Is that what you're going to wear?

 

Sophia looks down at her clothing.

                                                SOPHIA

                Yeah. At least for a while.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Okay. It's your money. But don't be disappointed if it doesn't do its job.

 

Sophia ducks back into the stall.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So tell me what I should expect.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Well, for starters, Tyler's a writer.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh yeah? He make any money at it?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Some. He writes for magazines, mostly. He's got one book, due out next spring.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So he's loaded.

 

Adrienne looks at her watch, and gets a little ancy.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                He's got enough to last him until his next book is done. But honestly, you've got more money than he does.

 

Sophia emerges and they walk toward the registers.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh. So are we going to the library, then?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I hope not.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You mean we might?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I'll call him and tell him not to take you to the library. How about dinner and a walk on the beach?

                                                SOPHIA

                Duh. I can do that alone.

 

At Adrienne's pleading look, Sophia relents.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                All right. Dinner and a walk on the beach. Swimming. And maybe a little dancing.

 

Sophia whips out a credit card to pay for the clothing.

 

As they walk out, Sophia stops cold in her tracks.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                If we're walking on the beach, does that mean I don't need shoes?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Please. When do you not need new shoes?

 

INT  APARTMENT BUILDING - AFTERNOON

 

Tyler straightens his apartment. He tosses old clothes under the sink in the kitchen. He adjusts his paintings on the walls.

 

                                                TYLER

                A little to the left. No. More right. Down. Perfect.

 

As he turns around, the painting falls to the ground, breaking the glass.

 

                                                TYLER

                Aw, crap.

 

As he cleans up the glass, he slices his finger on one of the shards.

 

                                                TYLER

                Ow.

 

The phone RINGS.

 

                                                TYLER

                Hello?

On the other end, Adrienne eats ice cream.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, it's me. What're you doing?

 

                                                TYLER

                Bleeding all over the place.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Another wart on your big toe?

 

                                                TYLER

                No. One of my paintings fell. Then it bit me.

 

Tyler winds his finger in a roll of toilet paper. And keeps absently winding it.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                So what are you planning on doing tonight?

 

                                                TYLER

                Well, there is a dramatic reading at the library -

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                NO! I mean, that might not be the best idea. You know Sophia. She's not exactly the "booky" type. She's more into -

 

                                                TYLER

                "Booky type?" Hmm. Well, I guess the horse races are out.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, I'm serious. No library. No bookstores. And no comic shops. Period.

 

Tyler stares in confusion at his finger, wound under toilet paper two inches thick.

 

                                                TYLER

                You must really want this thing to happen.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I just want you to be happy. I think she'll make you happy.

                                                TYLER

                All right, Tinkerbell, what sort of fairy dust do you have planned for me, then?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Dinner and a walk on the beach.

 

Tyler tries to shake the mass of tissue off his finger, but it won't budge.

 

                                                TYLER

                That's it? That's your magical formula for happiness?

                                (muttering)

                Get off.

 

Tyler walks over to the sink and runs water over the "bandage."

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Who are you talking to?

 

                                                TYLER

                Nobody. Just this stupid toilet paper.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I thought you said you were cleaning up glass. You didn't take me into the bathroom ...?

 

Tyler shakes his finger violently, and the mass of sodden toilet paper flies into the fan with an audible "SPLUT".

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Eeew. What was that?

 

                                                TYLER

                It came off. Finally. It was getting a little uncomfortable all wrapped up like that.

 

As the water drips off the tissue on the fan, the blades catch onto the mass and pull it into the spinning vortex.

 

                                                TYLER

                Uh oh.

 

The entire mass gets sucked into the fan and explodes in a mass of tiny, wet tissue pieces.

                                                ADRIENNE

                I don't even think you're listening to me.

 

Tyler pulls a piece of wet tissue off his forehead.

 

                                                TYLER

                Have you ever had wet toilet paper explode everywhere?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                If I hear a toilet flush, I am hanging up right now.

 

                                                TYLER

                This is going to take a while to clean up.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                So, where were we? Ah yes, dinner and a walk on the beach.

 

Tyler surveys the mess on the ceiling and walls.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm going to have to scrape that off.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Okay, you are really starting to gross me out here. I don't know whether to just hang up, or call a proctologist for you.

 

                                                TYLER

                What? No. No, what are you thinking? Get your mind out of the sewer and back in the gutter where it belongs.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Didn't think you wanted the company.

                                (clears throat)

                Anyway, I was thinking that you could go to that little Mexican place down by the Boardwalk, then you could watch the moon rise. Then you could take her back to your place.

                                                TYLER

                Let's see. Mexican food. Probably an hour and a half to two hours walking on the beach. And then we come back here and do what? Try to break wind in harmony? Think about it.

 

Tyler pulls a spatula out of the garbage disposal and scrapes the wall with it.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Okay, maybe not Mexican.

 

                                                TYLER

                Does she ever have gas?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What kind of a question is that?

 

                                                TYLER

                A serious one. I want to know. Is she the type of girl that would fart on a first date?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You gotta be kidding.

 

                                                TYLER

                Everyone gets gas. I just want to know if it'd be worth it to watch her squirm a little.

 

Adrienne giggles a little.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No. I can't let you do that.

 

                                                TYLER

                But it would be funny.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                That's not the point.

 

                                                TYLER

                You'd laugh.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No. I will not let you go to that Mexican place. How about Chinese?

 

                                                TYLER

                Cut the time down by an hour.

                                                ADRIENNE

                No Chinese. How about this. I'll buy you a bag of marshmallows and some hot dogs and you can roast them on the beach.

 

A big glop of wet tissue falls off the ceiling onto the phone receiver.

 

                                                TYLER

                So you're coming, too? You can be our chaperone.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I am not going to be your chaperone. You're a big boy. You can handle Sophia.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'll figure something out. You think she'd want her portrait done?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler ... just be careful. I don't want you to get hurt. She's a rich girl -

 

                                                TYLER

                And I'm just a poor, struggling writer.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No. Tyler, I didn't mean it like that. She's a great girl. I just want everything to be perfect for you. You deserve that ... after everything.

 

Tyler tosses the spatula back into the garbage disposal.

 

                                                TYLER

                I do okay with what I have. Listen, I've got to clean the toilet paper off the walls before this whole fiasco happens.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Break a leg. Just not yours. Or hers.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'll talk to you tomorrow.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Good luck.

 

Tyler hangs up the phone. He slowly picks up the picture frame. A small tear on the corner of the paper draws his attention. Another paper peeks out from underneath.

 

                                                TYLER

                I thought this was just a lithograph.

 

He pulls the picture from the frame. Behind it hides a handwritten letter.

 

The clock chimes Six o'clock.

 

                                                TYLER

                Figure it out later.

 

He tucks the letter inside his sketchpad and sets the frame behind his stereo.

 

Tyler wraps both his hands in protective toilet paper gloves and picks up the rest of the glass.

 

INT  BEDROOM - CONTINUING

 

Tyler kicks his scattered clothing under his bed. He moves a Spider Man action figure to the top of his computer.

 

                                                TYLER

                I know, Spider Man, but I just want the whole place to be sort of clean.

 

He wipes the dust from his computer screen with a dirty sock.

 

                                                TYLER

                You don't have to remind me of the rules. This is a boy's room. No girls allowed. But aren't you being a little bit old-fashioned? What if I want her to come in here and see my stuff?

 

Tyler straightens up and narrows his eyes at Spider Man.

 

                                                TYLER

                You wouldn't dare.

 

Tyler opens his closet and pulls out a box of action figures.

                                                TYLER

                I really like her. And I'm not going to have you ruin things for me. So -

 

He pulls out a WWE diva action figure.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm just going to have to keep you occupied.

 

Tyler tosses Spider Man and the diva into his sock drawer and closes it.

 

                                                TYLER

                There. I didn't want to have to throw you into the sock drawer with her, but you made me do it.

 

Tyler looks around approvingly.

 

                                                TYLER

                That ought to keep him busy for a while.

 

Then his gaze drops, and he looks at his actual surroundings - all the meaningless decor of half-fancied dreams. He sighs once and sits down in the middle of the floor.

 

                                                TYLER

                What am I doing?

 

He rocks back and forth with his head in his hands.

 

INT  SOPHIA'S LOFT APARTMENT - EVENING

 

Sophia brushes out her hair and puts on her makeup.

 

Her roommate, LORI (22), flops back on the couch and thumbs through a fashion magazine.

 

                                                LORI

                So what's the big deal with this guy, anyhoo?

                                                SOPHIA

                You've seen him around. He's kind of quiet. Mysterious. He's a challenge.

 

                                                LORI

                So you just want to plant your flag in a new world?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Come on, you make me sound like some sort of Spanish Sun-kist-a-dore. I just want to help him out.

 

                                                LORI

                Mmm-hmm. Sure.

 

Lori tosses some mail over in Sophia's direction.

 

                                                LORI

                Something came for you today.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What is it?

 

                                                LORI

                Postcard. From some guy signed "Zane".

 

Sophia jumps up and grabs the postcard. Her smile nearly cracks her makeup.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He's coming to town next week!

 

                                                LORI

                Whoop de doo.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You don't understand. Zane is ... well he changed my life when I was younger. He gave me a sense of direction and purpose.

 

                                                LORI

                So what was he, an old boyfriend?

 

Sophia traces the flourished signature on the postcard.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Not ... yeah. Exactly. He's an old ... he's wonderful.

                                                LORI

                You're not helping me out here. Give me a little clue or something.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's getting late. Tyler's going to be here soon.

 

Sophia places the postcard on her mirror and looks at the picture. A creepy graveyard, labelled ARKHAM.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He is so cool.

 

She brushes through her hair again.

 

                                                LORI

                So what's with the earth tones? Not going for the kill tonight?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm just going in to check out the territory. If it looks good, I'll bring out the big guns.

 

Lori mumbles into her magazine.

 

                                                LORI

                And how long will that take, forty five minutes?

 

A KNOCK at the door.

 

Sophia breezes past Lori to answer the door.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hey, I've got a little pride here.

 

                                                LORI

                So what? An hour?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                About.

 

Sophia opens the door and smiles sweetly.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hi, Tyler.

 

Tyler holds out a red PAPER ROSE. Sophia takes it questioningly.

                                                TYLER

                This is for you.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                That's sweet.

 

                                                TYLER

                It's paper. Cuts down on the risk of bee stings.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Ah. Oh, that's a joke.

 

Sophia ushers Tyler inside.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                This is Lori, my roommate.

 

                                                TYLER

                Yeah, I know. We had an art class together.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                                (to Lori)

                Why didn't you tell me you knew him?

                                (to Tyler)

                You are just full of surprises tonight. I didn't know you were an artist.

 

Tyler shifts a little uncomfortably in the spotlight.

 

                                                TYLER

                Well, that's me. Writer, artist, renaissance man. Modern day Michaelangelo. Not the ninja turtle, though.

 

Tyler clears his throat to break the uncomfortable silence.

 

                                                TYLER

                Oh-for-three. When the third joke at the door fails, that means it's time to go.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                That sounds good.

                                (to Lori)

                Don't wait up.

 

Lori glances over the top of her magazine as Sophia leaves.

                                                LORI

                Just remember what the sign on the doorknob means.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Right. Like you've ever got plans on a Friday night. Toodles.

 

Sophia closes the door behind her. Lori sticks her tongue out at her roommate.

 

EXT  SOPHIA'S LOFT APARTMENT - CONTINUING

 

Sophia takes Tyler's hand as they walk down the stairs.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So, how has your day been?

 

                                                TYLER

                I've been all right. Had a little difficulty getting the toilet paper off.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Well ...

 

                                                TYLER

                Long story.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I've got all night.

 

EXT  BOARDWALK - EVENING

 

Sophia and Tyler walk hand in hand down the boardwalk. Sophia holds a fruit slushee and sips from it occasionally.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So tell me all there is to know about Tyler Gracen.

 

                                                TYLER

                To start with, I was born on a cool, crips autumn day twenty five years ago. The bluebirds were singing sweetly to herald my birth.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Okay. Skip forward a few years. Where did you grow up?

 

Tyler gestures back to the town.

                                                TYLER

                As long as I can remember, I've lived here. Same as you.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm flattered that you noticed.

 

                                                TYLER

                I keep my eyes open.

 

Sophia takes one last sip of her slushee, then offers it to Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm done. You want the rest?

 

Tyler shrugs.

 

                                                TYLER

                Hate to let good ice go to waste.

 

He takes out the straw and tosses it in a nearby wastebasket.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What's the matter? Don't want cooties? You can't get any more germs on a straw than you can kissing someone.

 

                                                TYLER

                Well ... we're not to that point yet, are we?

 

They reach the end of the boardwalk and look out over the bay.

 

                                                TYLER

                Sometimes I just come out here to watch the clouds go by. They've got it easy up there. Just floating all day. Wetting on everyone when they feel like it. That's the life.

 

Sophia stretches her arms out, subtly glancing at her watch.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You've had a hard life, haven't you?

 

Tyler doesn't answer, just narrows his eyes a little as he looks out to the horizon.

                                                SOPHIA

                I can tell. Where are your parents?

 

                                                TYLER

                My mother lives in Oregon. My dad ... he's still here.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh, he lives close by?

 

                                                TYLER

                No. He doesn't live any more.

 

Sophia reaches out to console Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm so sorry. How long has it been?

 

                                                TYLER

                He died when I was seven. A car accident is what they said.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Were you two close?

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't remember. All I've got is pictures. But mostly it's just a big blank.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You don't remember your childhood?

 

                                                TYLER

                Do you?

 

Sophia smiles warmly.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I had a lot of good times as a girl. I remember a lot.

 

She touches her finger to his chest.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I even remember you. In first grade, you wanted to give me a valentine card, but you were too shy.

 

Tyler reddens slightly.

                                                TYLER

                I remember that.

                                (furrows his brow)

                And then it's just blank. Until my dad's funeral.

 

Tyler gestures down to the beach.

 

                                                TYLER

                You want to take a walk along the beach? It's supposed to be a full moon tonight.

 

Sophia takes his arm and squeezes it tight.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'd love to.

 

EXT  BEACH - NIGHT

 

The full moon rises over the azure bay, illuminating the night with magical brilliance.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's beautiful tonight.

 

Tyler glances over at Sophia. She catches his look out of the corner of her eye.

 

                                                TYLER

                It certainly is.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You want to go swimming?

 

                                                TYLER

                We're not dressed for it.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You don't have to be dressed, silly. Come on.

 

She starts to pull off her shirt.

 

                                                TYLER

                No. No. That's okay. I'm not much of a swimmer.

 

Sophia stops and looks at him in surprise.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Don't you know how to swim?

                                                TYLER

                Sure I know how to swim. I just don't feel comfortable swimming right now.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                All right.

 

She sits down on the sand and wiggles her toes in the lapping waves.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I've always wanted to find out what you were like.

 

                                                TYLER

                That makes two of us. So, what's the verdict?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I like what I see so far.

 

Tyler pulls a pocketwatch from his jeans.

 

                                                TYLER

                It's getting late. You want to swing back by my place real quick before I take you home?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sure. I want to see how a rich and famous writer-slash-artist lives.

 

Tyler pulls Sophia to her feet. She leans in close to him. Tyler holds that position for a moment, then steps back.

 

                                                TYLER

                Come on.

 

EXT  STREET - NIGHT

 

Tyler and Sophia walk along the nearly deserted street. Tyler's step slows as they near the Stedman house.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What's the matter?

 

                                                TYLER

                Uh, nothing. Just sand in my shoe.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I hate that.

Tyler glances over at the Stedman House. He shivers, despite the warm evening air.

 

Sophia follows his gaze.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Is there something over there?

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't know. I just get the heebie-jeebies every time I look at that house.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I used to play in the woods behind the house. They're mostly gone now. Oh, and I remember there was this barbed wire fence -

 

A TREMOR passes through Tyler, shaking his whole frame.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What is it? Are you all right?

 

                                                TYLER

                That was weird. I just had like a flash of memory - climbing through that barbed wire fence.

 

His hand unconciously touches the scars on his belly, hidden under his shirt.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What do you think it means?

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm sure it's nothing. Nothing.

 

He feigns a confident smile.

 

                                                TYLER

                We're almost there.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

 

Tyler closes the door behind them. Sophia looks around in feigned wonder.

 

                                                TYLER

                This is it.

                                                SOPHIA

                I am impressed. What is that on the walls? Spackle?

 

                                                TYLER

                Um, that's toilet paper. I haven't gotten it all off yet. Have a seat.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Wild and crazy tissue toga parties. I've heard all about you.

 

Sophia sits down on the couch.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Okay, now my jokes are dying.

 

She looks around at the apartment and notices the broken picture behind the stereo.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                                (continuing; gesturing)

                What happened here?

 

                                                TYLER

                Oh. It broke today.

 

Tyler disappears into the kitchen.

 

                                                TYLER

                You want something to drink?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sure. Whatever you've got.

 

Tyler comes out with two cans.

 

                                                TYLER

                I've got orange, and I've got Sprite.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sprite.

 

                                                TYLER

                Good. I like orange better.

 

Sophia takes a drink and sets the can down next to her.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So you're an artist?

                                                TYLER

                I try to be.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What do you do? Paint?

 

                                                TYLER

                Pencil and charcoal, mostly.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Can I see something you've done?

 

                                                TYLER

                Sure.

 

Tyler bends over to grab his sketch pad. Sophia takes a long look at his backside.

 

                                                TYLER

                Here.

 

Sophia leafs through the book. Sketches of fantastic lands and creatures come alive on the pages. Drawings of great heroes and beautiful women leap off the page.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                These are really good.

 

She hands the sketch pad back to him.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Do you have any others?

 

Tyler smiles a truly genuine smile.

 

                                                TYLER

                You really want to see?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I most surely do.

 

                                                TYLER

                Come in.

 

Tyler shows her into his bedroom.

 

INT  BEDROOM - CONTINUING

 

Sophia looks around at the pictures and posters. Supermodels, comic heroes, and fantastic places adorn the walls. The occasional action figure stands in a position of notable honor.

                                                SOPHIA

                So this is where you come up with all your ideas?

 

                                                TYLER

                Sometimes. But this is where I write them down.

 

Sophia sits down on the bed. She bounces a little.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Comfy.

 

                                                TYLER

                It works for me.

 

Tyler gestures to a pile of drawing books at the side of the bed.

 

                                                TYLER

                There's the sketch pads. If you'll excuse me for a couple of minutes, I've got to run to the bathroom.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Go ahead. No trouble for me to get into here.

 

Tyler exits.

 

Sophia immediately looks under the bed. She pulls out a shoebox and peers through the contents. Nothing but some old story manuscripts.

 

Then she looks in his closet. She plugs her nose at the smell of dirty laundry. She searches, but doesn't find what she's looking for.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He's got to have magazines somewhere. Every guy does.

 

She opens his drawers. Half filled with clothing, the drawers hold no surprises. Except the sock drawer has Spider Man and the diva.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Okay, that's a little kinky.

 

Spider Man lies with his hands behind his head, as if completely satisfied.

                                                SOPHIA

                Maybe in the sketch books. He's got to have something I can work with.

 

She flips through the sketch pads really quickly, glancing toward the door every few seconds.

 

Then she stops on a drawing of her. A very elegant drawing of her wrapped in a sheet.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Bingo.

 

She puts down the sketch pad and flips through another one.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Comics. Comics. Dragons. Me.

 

She holds the sketch pad up.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You little horn dog.

 

In the other room, the toilet FLUSHES. She flips back a few pages and pretends to admire the comic drawings.

 

Tyler enters. He tosses his other sketch pad on the floor. The LETTER (from behind the picture in the frame) falls out, unnoticed by either of them.

 

                                                TYLER

                Well, what do you think?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You are such a good artist.

 

                                                TYLER

                Really?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Have you ever drawn something real? I mean, not that comics aren't real, but I mean a real person.

 

Tyler smiles.

                                                TYLER

                Once or twice. I just can't find anyone who's willing to sit and have me draw them.

 

Sophia glances at him seductively.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Would you like to draw me?

 

Tyler gulps. Emotions race across his face.

 

                                                TYLER

                Um. Wow. That would be great. Sure. I've got some time next week.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                How about right now?

 

Sophia leans back on the bed, the unspoken invitation screaming at Tyler.

 

                                                TYLER

                Is it getting hot in here?

 

He tugs at his collar.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                No. That's just me.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm going to get something to drink. You want anything?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Just a picture.

 

Tyler exits into the kitchen. He ducks into the fridge, fanning himself.

 

                                                TYLER

                This is not happening. This can't be happening.

 

He pulls out a frozen drumstick and presses it against his forehead.

 

                                                TYLER

                Why me?

 

                                                SOPHIA (O.S.)

                Why not you?

Tyler turns around and drops his drumstick in surprise.

 

Sophia stands wrapped in a sheet, her shoulders bare.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm ready any time you are.

 

Beads of sweat break out on Tyler's forehead.

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't know why this happening.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You've had a hard life, Tyler. You deserve something good.

 

Tyler starts noticeably trembling. He looks for any way out.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm sorry. I can't do this.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Nobody would have to know. It could be our little secret.

 

A FLASH OF MEMORY sends Tyler reeling. A dark, hissing whisper echoes in his mind - a man's dark shadow whispers, "It's our little secret."

 

Tyler screws his eyes shut and falls backwards, his body remembering abuses past. He hits his head on the cabinet door.

 

                                                TYLER

                                (pleading)

                No. You get away from me.

 

He ducks backward on the floor and curls his knees up in front of him.

 

Sophia's demeanor changes completely at the metamorphosis in Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler, it's okay.

 

She crouches down, but can't really move around in the sheet.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You know what? This was a bad idea. Hold on a minute.

 

She goes back into the bedroom.

Tyler curls on the floor with his fists balled up by his head. His jaw clenches as if in extreme pain.

 

                                                TYLER

                No. Leave me alone.

 

Sophia comes back out, completely dressed.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler, I don't know if you can hear me or not, but we'll do this another time.

 

She tries to close the refrigerator door, but Tyler won't move. His lips move in silent horror.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'll call you tomorrow. My number is in your sketch pad.

 

Sophia lets herself out.

 

At the click of the door, Tyler lets out a strangled sob. Tears flow down his cheeks from his eyes squeezed shut against the pain of remembered abuse.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - MORNING

 

A KNOCK at the door. A key turns the lock. Adrienne enters.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, you here?

 

She looks around the apartment, and notices the picture missing from the wall. She picks up the frame from behind the stereo.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                That's too bad.

 

Then she sees Tyler's feet from behind the kitchen wall. The frame drops to the floor.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler!

 

She kneels down at his side and cradles his head.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, wake up. Please wake up.

Tyler jerks involuntarily. His eyes pop open and he trembles uncontrollably. His eyes roll around, not recognizing anything.

 

Adrienne holds him tightly, so he doesn't hurt himself.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, it's okay. It's me, Adrienne. It's me, okay? You're safe now. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm not going to let them hurt you anymore.

 

Tyler stops thrashing and slowly recognizes his friend. He collapses in her arms. His hoarse sobs betray a difficult night.

 

Adrienne looks up past the ceiling.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Don't let this happen again. He can't handle it anymore. Just let him forget the pain.

 

Tyler sharply inhales, waking from his trance-like state.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Hi. How are you doing?

 

Tyler pulls himself to a sitting position.

 

                                                TYLER

                My back hurts.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I would imagine. You slept on the floor all night long.

 

Tyler scoots back, and Adrienne shuts the refrigerator door.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You want to talk about it?

 

Tyler shakes his head. He stumbles over to the couch.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Please? I'll fix breakfast.

Tyler shrugs from the couch. Adrienne grabs a box of cereal and plops it down next to him.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                There. Eat up.

 

She sits on the floor in front of Tyler.

 

                                                TYLER

                I remembered something.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I can see that. It's in your eyes. You want to tell me what it was?

 

                                                TYLER

                Somebody hurt me. When I was little.

 

Adrienne reaches out to console him, but he only stares blankly into the wall.

 

                                                TYLER

                I woke up in a dark room. There was someone in there with me. I could hear him moving around. But I couldn't move. I was too scared.

 

His eyes dart to Adrienne to gauge her reaction. But he sees only sympathy there.

 

                                                TYLER

                I think he did something to me.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Did he hit you?

 

Tyler nods.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Did he do something else?

 

Again, Tyler nods.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Did he touch you? Down there?

 

Tyler's jaw clenches, revealing what he is unwilling to vocalize.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, look at me, please.

 

Tyler's eyes shift to Adrienne.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Listen to me. I ... this is going to be hard for you to hear, but it sounds like you were molested. Maybe even raped.

 

Tyler squeezes his eyes shut. His hands climb up to clench beside his face.

 

Adrienne grabs his wrists and tries to calm him down.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, it's okay. I'm here for you. It wasn't your fault. You were a little boy. You couldn't do anything.

 

She wraps her arms around him and holds him tight. The primal cry wells deep within Tyler's throat. He does his best to hold it back, but it comes out in choking sobs.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                                (continuing; softer)

                You couldn't do anything.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - LATER

 

Tyler lays down on the couch. Adrienne kisses him on the forehead as she rises.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I've only got to work until five. I'll be back then, all right?

 

Tyler nods affirmation.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You want a blanket?

 

Tyler nods again.

 

INT  BEDROOM - CONTINUING

 

Adrienne walks in and stops dead in her tracks. Her eyes harden as she looks at Tyler's bed.

Tyler's sketch pad lies open to the drawing of Sophia wrapped in a sheet. On top is a note reading, "Thanks for tonight. Call me, 555-6182".

 

On top of the note sits Sophia's thong.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Dammit.

 

She grabs the underwear and note and sticks them in her pocket. She closes the sketch pad and sets it on the floor.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - CONTINUING

 

Adrienne lays the blanket over Tyler.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I'll be back later. Call my cell if you need anything.

 

EXT  APARTMENT BUILDING - CONTINUING

 

Adrienne fumes as she walks down the stairs.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Stupid, stupid. Should never have let that tramp near him.

 

At the bottom of the stairs she looks back up to Tyler's apartment.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I hope you can forgive me. I didn't mean to - I never wanted to see you hurt again.

 

She pulls the note and the thong from her pocket and tucks them into her purse.

 

INT  SOPHIA'S LOFT APARTMENT - MID MORNING

 

Lori stirs her cereal and milk in front of cartoons. Sophia walks in, brushing out her hair.

 

                                                LORI

                Good moring.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Yeah, it is. You left your toothbrush out again.

 

                                                LORI

                So sue me. I forgot.

Sophia opens the cupboards.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What's for breakfast?

 

                                                LORI

                Yogurt's in the fridge. I ate all the Cocoa Puffs. What time did you get in?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Late.

 

                                                LORI

                Good late, or bad late?

 

Sophia just smiles triumphantly.

 

                                                LORI

                I see. I noticed that the laundry basket in the bathroom was a little less full this morning - minus one pair of undies. You forget something on your date?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Forget? I didn't "forget" anything.

 

                                                LORI

                So you brought out the big guns.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                No. But I am going to have a little fun with this one. He's not like the other guys. He's not an easy catch. But ... I think it will be worth the effort.

 

INT  SNAPPY SAM'S SEAFOOD GRILL - AFTERNOON

 

Adrienne carries an order out to a customer.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Here's your grilled halibut. Enjoy your meal. Is there anything else I can get you?

 

The customer, a tall, dark, and stunning man, ZANE (37), smiles at Adrienne.

                                                ZANE

                Everything looks wonderful. I think I'll be fine for now, thank you.

 

As she walks away, Adrienne glances back at Zane. He catches her peeking and winks at her. She blushes and ducks into the back.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Oh my gosh, I just looked back at a customer.

 

The cook, GIL (40's), glances out at Zane.

 

                                                GIL

                Hey, if I was twenty years younger ... heck, if I was a woman, I'd glance back, too.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You don't get it. I never look back.

 

                                                GIL

                So you slipped up one. So what?

 

Adrienne loads up her next order.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I've got an image to maintain here.

 

                                                GIL

                Ah. So if they all knew the ice princess had a heart, they might try to melt you a little, eh?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Right.

                                (points at her heart)

                Nobody gets in here.

 

                                                GIL

                Got a little double meaning there, Toots.

 

Adrienne sticks her tongue out at him and goes back out into the restaurant.

 

INT  SOPHIA'S LOFT APARTMENT - AFTERNOON

 

Sophia breezes in the door, with Lori on her heels. They both toss shopping bags on the couch.

Sophia disappears into her room.

 

                                                LORI

                Hey, where're you going?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Nowhere.

 

Lori pulls out a pair of SOCKS from her bag, kicks off her sandals, and pulls them on.

 

                                                LORI

                Nowhere, my foot. Give the guy a break. Too much, too fast. It's a double dose of Ex-Lax. You're gonna give him the craps.

 

Sophia emerges, wearing overalls.

 

                                                LORI

                Girl, you have no mercy.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm just going to have fun.

 

She whisks out the door with a huge, mischevious smile on her face.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - AFTERNOON

 

Tyler steps out of the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He only wears a pair of cutoff jeans.

 

Nasty scars highlight his chest and stomach. Sharp lines that look as if they were ripped into his skin.

 

Two LETTERS drop through the mail slot.

 

Tyler picks them up. Both from publishing houses. His eyes brighten perceptibly.

 

As he rips the first open and pulls it from the envelope, a KNOCK at the door.

 

Tyler searches for a t-shirt. He pulls it on to hide his scars, and answers the door.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hi.

 

                                                TYLER

                Um, hi. What are you doing here?

                                                SOPHIA

                I came to surprise you.

 

                                                TYLER

                After last night, I don't think you could do much more to surprise me.

 

Sophia slips inside the door, but leaves it open.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm really sorry about last night. I guess I just got kind of caught up in ...

 

She blushes a little.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's a little embarrassing. I've just always wanted to be a model for an artist. I'm sorry if I took it too far.

 

Tyler nods in acceptance.

 

                                                TYLER

                Okay. I guess I should have handled it a little better, too. Sorry I freaked out.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What happened?

 

                                                TYLER

                Um. Mild seizure. It's nothing really. Nothing at all.

 

Sophia takes his hand and looks into Tyler's eyes.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I just want you to know that I'm here for you, no matter what you're going through.

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't feel much like drawing right now.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Don't worry about it. That's not what I came here for. I just thought you might want to go see a movie with me.

Tyler looks over at the telephone.

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't know. Adrienne's supposed to come over after she's done with work.

                                (looks at time)

                She'll be here in a few minutes.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So give her a call. Tell her you're going out to a movie.

 

                                                TYLER

                Hmm. I guess it couldn't hurt. What do you want to see?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Whatever you want to see.

                                (sees letters)

                What've you got there?

 

Tyler dials Adrienne's cell phone number.

 

                                                TYLER

                Just a couple of letters from publishers. Shh. It's ringing.

 

INT  SNAPPY SAM'S SEAFOOD GRILL - SAME TIME

 

At that moment, Adrienne clicks off her cell phone and sticks it back in her purse.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I really have to go. I told my friend I'd be by right after work.

 

Across the table, her customer, ZANE, reaches out and takes her hand.

 

                                                ZANE

                Just five minutes. He won't miss you.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I really have to go.

 

But there's something in Zane's eye that keeps her there.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Five minutes.

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

Sophia smiles slyly as Tyler leaves a message for Adrienne.

 

                                                TYLER

                Adrienne, it's me. Look, I'm going out to a movie right now, so you don't have to come by. I guess your cell phone's off, so you won't get this for a while. I'll talk to you later and tell you how the movie was. See ya.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I wonder where she is.

 

                                                TYLER

                Probably got tied up with work.

 

Sophia tugs on his dirty t-shirt.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You want to get changed?

 

                                                TYLER

                Sure.

 

Tyler goes into his room and pulls off his shirt.

 

Sophia watches him from the living room, through the half-open door.

 

Ugly scars cover his back. Her mouth drops open at the sight of them.

 

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                So, what movie do you want to go see?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh my ... scars.

 

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                What was that? I couldn't hear you.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Nothing. There's "Maniac II", playing at the mall. That's supposed to be scary.

 

She can't take her eyes off the scars.

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                I thought you'd want to see "The Color of Rain."

 

                                                SOPHIA

                No. That's okay. I'll go see it with Lori.

 

Tyler pulls a shirt on, and the spell is broken. Sophia looks around, trying to pull it together.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hey, Tyler. I was wondering something.

 

Tyler comes out, buttoning his shirt.

 

                                                TYLER

                It's good to wonder. Keeps your mind working.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Whatever. Why didn't you want to go swimming last night?

 

Tyler pulls on his shoes.

 

                                                TYLER

                Have you ever tried swimming on a full stomach? There's a reason they teach that in health class.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So that's the only reason?

 

                                                TYLER

                Isn't that enough?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I was just wondering. You look like you've got a good body. Why be embarrassed to show it off?

 

Tyler jerks on his shoelaces, and winces at the resulting pinch.

 

                                                TYLER

                Can we talk about this some other time? I'm really not in the mood right now.

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.

                                (wiggling a little)

                Can I use your bathroom?

 

                                                TYLER

                Sure. It's right in there.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM - CONTINUING

 

Sophia stares into the mirror.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What are you doing? Just cut your losses and run. He's crap.

 

She pulls her cell phone out of her purse.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hey, Tyler?

 

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                Yeah?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Where's the toilet paper?

 

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                Under the sink.

 

She opens the sink cupboard, to see it packed with toilet paper rolls.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Um, Tyler?

                                (peeks out the door)

                My stomach's hurting a little bit. Do you mind giving me a little privacy?

 

                                                TYLER

                Everybody does it. Bowel movements are nothing to be ashamed of.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I know. But this is only, like, our second date. I'm just not ready to break down that wall yet.

 

Tyler opens the front door.

                                                TYLER

                Fine. I'll be right out here when you're done.

 

Sophia flashes him a thankful smile and closes the bathroom door.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                                (dials cell phone)

                You'd better pick up.

 

INT  SNAPPY SAM'S SEAFOOD GRILL - SAME TIME

 

Zane's cell phone rings.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Do you need to take that?

 

                                                ZANE

                                (looks at caller)

                Probably.

 

Adrienne half rises, but Zane stops her.

 

                                                ZANE

                It's nothing that can't wait. Besides, I want this five minutes to be completely uninterrupted.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - BATHROOM - CONTINUING

 

Sophia puts her cell phone away and huffs in frustration.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Why can't I find any good men?

 

She flushes the toilet and kicks the cupboard door.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's just not fair. I am so sick of everyone else getting what they want.

                                (staring at mirror)

                You're better than this. Don't give up when you're so close. Think about Van Gogh. He was born without an ear. So Tyler's got a few scars, big deal. You can close your eyes. And he's hopelessly, madly in love with you. You can still have some fun.

She spies a pair of his boxers in the corner.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Still have lots of fun.

 

EXT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - CONTINUING

 

Tyler looks out to the distant sky. He holds both letters open in his hand.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm finished.

 

Tyler doesn't even glance back at her.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hey, I said - are you all right, Tyler?

 

Tyler gestures with the letters.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What do they say?

 

                                                TYLER

                Guess.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't know.

 

Tyler holds a letter up in front of his face and reads.

 

                                                TYLER

                "Dear Mr. Gracen, we thank you for your submitted manuscript, but we do not feel that it fits our needs at this time. Please consider us in the future as you pursue more writing."

 

                                                SOPHIA

                That doesn't sound so bad.

 

                                                TYLER

                That's not the worst part.

                                (reading)

                "Tyler, on a personal note, next time, re-think your story. Dark antihero stuff doesn't sell anymore. Give me a call when you've got another heroic story like your book." And it's signed, Horatio Margotti, Publisher.

 

Tyler crumples the letters and tosses them on the ground.

 

                                                TYLER

                I worked six months on that story.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Why don't you write what they want?

 

                                                TYLER

                Because I can't! I can't write heroic stuff anymore. That's not me. That's not who I am. Not anymore.

 

Sophia squeezes his hand.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I think that's who you are. At least, that's what I see.

 

                                                TYLER

                Why?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler, you are the smartest person I know. Those things you said last night just blew me away. If you write like you talk, somebody will want you.

 

                                                TYLER

                Flattery's not going to work.

 

Sophia hugs him from behind.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                If flattery doesn't work, will you accept the truth?

 

                                                TYLER

                Never hurts.

 

Her fingers interlace across his chest.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Then let me tell you a little truth. You're not what I expected.

                                                TYLER

                If this is leading up to, "Tyler, you're a great guy, but ..." then you can just walk away now. No hard feelings.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Okay. Tyler, you're a great guy, and ... I just want get to know you better. Okay? As friends?

 

Tyler turns around to read Sophia's face. Her earnestness is almost comical.

 

                                                TYLER

                I once had a dog that would look at me like that. She always got what she wanted, too.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm going to take that as a yes.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'll grab my keys and wallet.

 

INT  BEDROOM - CONTINUING

 

Tyler sticks his keys and wallet into his zipper pouch. He turns around to see Sophia standing in the bedroom door.

 

He stops halfway through strapping on the zipper pouch.

 

                                                TYLER

                Yes?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Why don't you just stick them in your pocket?

 

                                                TYLER

                I've got a notepad and pen in here. Just in case I get any ideas.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Can you leave the writer home tonight, and just be you?

 

                                                TYLER

                They're one and the same.

 

Sophia looks around. She sees the open sock drawer.

                                                SOPHIA

                What? Like Spider Man? Doesn't the hero ever get the girl?

 

                                                TYLER

                Not in my stories.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So let's start a new story.

 

Tyler puts his zipper pouch down slowly.

 

Sophia's eyes plead with him to continue.

 

                                                TYLER

                All right.

 

The pouch drops onto the FOLDED LETTER (from the picture frame). The paper crinkles.

 

Tyler picks up the paper and opens it.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler ...

 

                                                TYLER

                All right. I'll read it later.

 

He folds the letter and sticks it back into his sketch pad.

 

As he's sticking his wallet and keys into his pocket, Sophia looks around for the sketch pad and her note from last night.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Did you get my note?

 

                                                TYLER

                I ... I don't know. I've been a little out of it all day. What did it say?

 

Sophia smiles dismissively.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Nothing much. Just thanks for the date last night. That's all.

 

INT  SNAPPY SAM'S SEAFOOD GRILL - EVENING

 

Adrienne looks up at the clock. Six o'clock.

 

                                                ZANE

                What are you looking at?

                                                ADRIENNE

                I've gotta go. I promised I'd meet my friend an hour ago.

 

                                                ZANE

                Give her a call.

 

Adrienne pulls her cell phone out.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                It's a "he".

                                (on Tyler's machine)

                Tyler, if you're mad that I'm not there yet, I'm sorry. Please pick up the phone. All right. I'll try to stop by later. Bye.

 

                                                ZANE

                Not home, is he?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                It was really nice meeting you. I'm sorry, I don't remember your name.

 

Zane reaches into his pocket and pulls out a business card. He writes a number and signs his name. The signature matches the one on Sophia's postcard.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Zane Opal. Real Estate.

 

                                                ZANE

                That's my cell number there. I'm in town for a week on some business.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I just may call you.

 

                                                ZANE

                Please do. Maybe you could show me the way to some of these places I'm going to buy.

 

Adrienne smiles.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Okay.

 

Adrienne walks away, but bumps into a chair when she turns around.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Clumsy me.

 

Zane waves goodbye to her and turns back to his drink.

 

EXT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - EVENING

 

Adrienne bangs on the door. No answer.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler, I'm sorry. It's just I got held up at work.

 

She pulls out her keys, but her cell phone gets caught up in her keychain.

 

Her phone blinks that she has a message. She listens to it.

 

                                                TYLER

                                (leaving message)

                Adrienne, it's me. Look, I'm going out to a movie right now, so you don't have to come by. I guess your cell phone's off, so you won't get this for a while. I'll talk to you later and tell you how the movie was. See ya.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Went to a movie, huh? All right.

 

She walks down the stairs and toward her apartment.

 

INT  ADRIENNE'S APARTMENT - EVENING

 

Textbooks litter the tables in the living room and kitchen. Pictures of her and Tyler stand in prominent positions.

 

Adrienne sits down on the couch and turns on some classical music.

 

The clock reads 7:00 pm.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler's out to a movie. He never comes back early. Why can't I go out?

 

She immediately dives into her closet and swims through all of her clothes.

 

When she emerges into the living room, thirty minutes later, she's dressed stylishly comfortable.

                                                ADRIENNE

                                (continuing; reading business card)

                Zane Opal. 555-7654. Hope you're free tonight.

 

Zane's pleasant voice answers on the other end.

 

                                                ZANE

                Hello, Zane Opal.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Hello, Zane. It's Adrienne Tolbert. From the grill tonight.

 

                                                ZANE

                Ah yes. Blonde. Bumped into the chair.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Yeah. That's me.

 

                                                ZANE

                Well, Adrienne. What can I do for you?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I was wondering if you were free tonight.

 

EXT  MOVIE THEATER - NIGHT

 

The milling crowd exits the theater. Several teenagers mimic the Maniac stabbing a helpless victim.

 

Tyler and Sophia walk through the crowd.

 

                                                TYLER

                That wasn't quite what I expected.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                There was sure a lot of screaming.

 

                                                TYLER

                Yeah. That actress had quite a set of lungs.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't think you were looking at her lungs.

 

                                                TYLER

                Were you?

Sophia dismisses that with a wave.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Nothing I don't see in the mirror every day.

 

                                                TYLER

                So now what?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Let's take a walk.

 

EXT  STREET - NIGHT

 

At this late hour, the streets are all but deserted.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Really? I thought that you would have started writing in college.

 

                                                TYLER

                Nope. My whole life has been one dark, bleak story.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'll bet it's had some good times.

 

                                                TYLER

                Not very many.

 

Tyler stops in front of a house for sale.

 

                                                TYLER

                This was where Adrienne lived. I lived on the next block. We used to play in those woods all the time.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                How long have you and Adrienne been friends?

 

                                                TYLER

                Just about forever. As far as I can remember anyway.

 

Tyler takes Sophia's hand and leads her around to the back of the house.

 

EXT  ADRIENNE'S OLD HOUSE - CONTINUING

 

Tall grass chokes out the old sandbox and swingset. A weathered rope holds a tire swing from a thick branch.

                                                TYLER

                The old tire swing.

 

He slaps the tire affectionately.

 

                                                TYLER

                We swung for hours on this swing. Talking. Dreaming about the future. I was going to make movies. She was going to be a nurse.

 

Sophia walks a circle around the tire swing. Tyler climbs up on it - standing and swinging.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sounds like you have a lot of memories here. You ever come here at night like this?

 

A FLASH OF MEMORY strikes Tyler. A small boy huddles behind the tree by the tire swing in the darkness. He sobs, unable to control his emotion.

 

Tyler loses his balance and falls backward off the swing. He stumbles as he hits the ground.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler?

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm okay. I just ... over here, crying about something. It was night. And I was crying.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler, are you all right?

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't know.

 

Sophia walks around the tree to face Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm here right now, and I care about you ... as a friend.

 

                                                TYLER

                I know. Thanks. You want a turn on the tire swing?

 

Sophia looks at the weathered and dirty tire.

                                                SOPHIA

                No thanks. I outgrew that a long time ago. Probably about the time I got interested in boys.

 

                                                TYLER

                And when was that?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I was ten.

 

                                                TYLER

                Early start. I would have guessed twelve or thirteen.

 

Tyler leans over the tire swing and watches as Sophia traces her fingers along the tree trunk. Tyler watches her face closely and sees the memories peel back the layers of truth in her words.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                From an early age I really liked boys. And I wanted them to like me, too. And they did.

 

                                                TYLER

                You've always had a fan club.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But not like you. You're different, Tyler. Really different. You don't look at me like other guys do. Why?

 

Tyler pushes the tire swing back and forth.

 

                                                TYLER

                How would you treat a dream?

                                (spins swing)

                Would you whirl it around so fast that you get dizzy and lose your grip? Or would you shelter it and keep it close, so it wouldn't fall and break?

                                (stops swing)

                This is like an hourglass to me. The sands keep falling, and I'm scared to death that I'm going to drop it and wake up and find that none of this is real. That's how my whole life has been.

 

Sophia puts her hands on top of his on the swing.

                                                SOPHIA

                You have a good heart, Tyler. You really do.

                                (smiles)

                You might even make a good girl out of me.

 

Tyler scuffs the loose dirt under the tire swing. His toe twists on the ground. Tyler gives a curious expression as his toe bumps on something hard.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler?

 

Tyler's down in the dirt, digging out something plastic.

 

Tyler pulls up a dirt encrusted GI JOE action figure.

 

                                                TYLER

                It's Duke.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Forget I said anything. Just forget it.

 

The moment is broken and gone. Sophia composes herself and trues to smile at Tyler.

 

                                                TYLER

                I lost this figure when I was six. I couldn't find him anywhere. He was right here, all along. Right here where he should be.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                                (muttering)

                You seem to be digging up a lot recently.

 

EXT  BOARDWALK - NIGHT

 

Adrienne and Zane walk hand in hand along the deserted plaza.

 

Adrienne sniffs close to Zane.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What is that fragrance?

 

                                                ZANE

                Incense. I find Sandalwood to be a very relaxing smell.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Smells good.

 

Zane stops and twirls Adrienne around. They dance for a brief minute in the plaza. Then he pulls her close and looks deep into her eyes.  His hand grip her arms tightly.

 

Adrienne's breath flutters.

 

                                                ZANE

                Have you ever wanted something so bad that you can taste it? So bad that it controls your every thought and movement?

 

Adrienne swallows hard. She nods quickly, not daring to imagine what he is referring to.

 

                                                ZANE

                You want something that you can't have. And that drives you mad. Like a screw twisting around in your chest, driving deeper and deeper into your heart. You want it, Adrienne, and it consumes you.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What are you talking about?

 

Zane realizes what he's saying, and he lets go of Adrienne. White handprints mark her arms.

 

                                                ZANE

                I'm sorry.

 

He walks a few paces, then turns.

 

                                                ZANE

                It's been so long since I've been to this town. I've got a lot of memories that are hard to deal with.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I know what that's like.

 

                                                ZANE

                Why don't you take me someplace? Someplace that holds a lot of memories for you. I think I'd like that.

Adrienne points back down the road.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I grew up down that way.

 

EXT  ADRIENNE'S OLD HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Tyler wipes the dirt off of the action figure.  He pulls his shirt out of his pants and gets into the tiny crevices and joints.

 

His scars show brightly in the moonlight.

 

                                                TYLER

                He was my favorite action figure. It's coming back to me now. I was playing over here with Adrienne ... I walked over here with him. And then Adrienne fell. She was twisting on the swing.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler.

 

But he's re-enacting the memory.

 

                                                TYLER

                She fell. I came over here. She didn't look like she was breathing. I yelled for her mom. I think I was crying. I didn't want to lose my best friend. I thought she was going to die. I was holding on to her. Then her mom was trying to pick her up. Somebody pulled me off. I was screaming that I was sorry ...

 

He looks at Sophia. The freshly opened memory wounds him.

 

                                                TYLER

                I thought it was my fault that she fell.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Kids fall all the time.

 

                                                TYLER

                Not Adrienne. She was in gymnastics. She never fell.

 

Sophia walks around the tree and touches the old tire swing.

                                                SOPHIA

                This place holds a lot of memories. I can feel it.

 

                                                TYLER

                I wanted you to come and play with us. But you ...

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I was rich.

 

                                                TYLER

                Yeah. Adrienne didn't think -

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh come on. You. It was you who thought I was too good for you. Just admit it, Tyler. You loved me and didn't think you were good enough.

 

Tyler turns away. Hurt fills his eyes. Sophia pulls back, guilt clouding her expression.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                ... don't think you're good enough. You still ... Oh, Tyler.

 

She reaches out and touches his shoulder. He turns and a tear drops from his eye.

 

                                                TYLER

                You were my goddess.

 

Sophia wraps her arms around Tyler's neck.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm so sorry.

 

Tyler breaks the embrace. He steps back away from Sophia.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I never thought ...

 

                                                TYLER

                I know. Nobody ever does. If the world rotates around you, you don't have to think. Everything just happens. It's when you're floating way out in space; when you're lost; that's when you pray that you can find some light to lead you home.

 

Sophia's eyes glitter with tears.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler. Please. I didn't know. Sure it's great when the world revolves around me. I'm the princess. Everyone loves me. They all smile and wave.

 

Sophia sits back against the tree. She looks off into the distance.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Then as soon as my back was turned; I heard the whispers. Slut. Whore. Bitch. Poor little bitch girl. I never understood. They all loved me. I saw you. You didn't whisper.

 

                                                TYLER

                You were my light.

 

She reaches out to him. Tyler takes her hand.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Thank you.

 

Tyler pulls Sophia to her feet.

 

                                                TYLER

                Let's go back to my place. We can cut through the woods here.

 

Tyler puts his arm around Sophia and they walk into the shadows.

 

EXT  STREET - MIDNIGHT

 

Adrienne points out her old house.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                That's where I grew up.

 

                                                ZANE

                For sale. Maybe I ought to look into it.

                                                ADRIENNE

                You'd love the burnt orange shag carpet. Mom did. Couldn't bear to change it. So we kept it.

 

                                                ZANE

                How long did you live here?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Until I was nineteen. Five years ago.

 

                                                ZANE

                Twenty-four? You don't look a day over twenty.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                And how old are you? Let me guess. Thirty-two?

 

Zane laughs.

 

                                                ZANE

                Yeah. Five years ago.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                No way. You can't be thirteen years older than me.

 

                                                ZANE

                Is that a problem?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Not right now. I think it's pretty hot.

 

Zane gestures to the back of the house.

 

                                                ZANE

                I don't think anyone's home. Nobody to mind if we go around back and play around.

 

EXT  ADRIENNE'S OLD HOUSE - CONTINUING

 

Adrienne follows Zane around back. The tire swing spins slowly.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I haven't been back here forever.

 

                                                ZANE

                                (almost silently)

                Me neither.

                                                ADRIENNE

                Hmm? Did you say something?

 

                                                ZANE

                Must've been the memories talking.

 

Adrienne smiles and climbs onto the tire swing.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Must've been.

                                (to swing)

                I've missed you. We used to have so much fun. Spinning around until I thought my head was going to explode. Then I'd jump to the ground and I couldn't move for ten minutes.

 

Zane walks around the backside of the tree. He sees something in the grass. He bends over and picks up DUKE (the action figure).

 

Zane sticks the figure in his pocket, looking around for whoever lost it.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Want to push me?

 

                                                ZANE

                Sure.

 

Zane pushes her once.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What's the matter? You look like you've just seen a ghost.

 

                                                ZANE

                Memories. Ghosts. Same difference.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                C'mon. Let me inside that dark-haired head.  I'm majoring in psych. Maybe I can give you some insights.

 

Adrienne smiles mischievously.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Unless you've already got a therapist. It could be a brief thing between us.

Zane smiles, but there is darkness in his eyes.

 

                                                ZANE

                Okay. But not here.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                All right. We could go back to my place.

 

                                                ZANE

                I've got a property that I just put money down on. I'd like to stop in, just for a minute.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                That works, too.

 

Zane walks away quickly. Adrienne hurries to catch up.

 

Behind them, the bushes at the forest edge shake. Tyler steps out.

 

                                                TYLER

                He's got to be around here somewhere.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's just a toy.

 

                                                TYLER

                Yeah. But he was my toy.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tell you what. We'll come back tomorrow and look for Duke.

 

She reaches for Tyler's hand and leads him back into the woods.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - LATER

 

Tyler shuts the door behind them. The answering machine flashes with one message.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                                (on Answering Machine)

                "Tyler, if you're mad that I'm not there yet, I'm sorry. Please pick up the phone. All right. I'll try to stop by later. Bye."

 

                                                SOPHIA

                There wasn't a note.

                                                TYLER

                Probably met some guy, fell head over heels, and went back to his place.

 

Sophia laughs.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sure. Whatever. This is Adrienne we're talking about. You're the only one she -

 

Tyler's smile fades.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm the only ... what?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Just girl talk.

 

                                                TYLER

                Humor me.

 

Sophia pleads with her eyes.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                We don't need to talk about this now. I promise I'll tell you later. Swear.

                                (holds out her finger)

                Pinky swear? Nobody can back out of a pinky swear.

 

Tyler softens. He holds out his pinky and they shake on it. Sophia sits down on the couch.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I was thinking a lot about last night. I didn't mean to be too forward.

 

                                                TYLER

                S'okay. I've just been under a lot of stress lately. Two publishers reject me. I can't get things pulled together with my art. All these images keep coming back into my head. I can't get rid of them. I feel like I'm going crazy.

 

Tyler plops down on the couch next to Sophia.

                                                TYLER

                On top of that, I finally get to be with you. My blood pressure's probably through the roof.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                There's ways to make it go down.

 

                                                TYLER

                I know.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But we won't go there just yet.

 

Tyler looks at her, surprised.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I know. Don't let anybody know, okay? Yes, I'm turning down the perfect opportunity to fulfill all your wildest fantasies. I know.

 

A happy smile spreads over Tyler's face.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Maybe there is a good girl under all of this.

 

                                                TYLER

                                (tugs on her overall strap)

                Maybe someday I'll get to see.

 

Sophia removes Tyler's hand.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But not tonight.

 

They smile at each other. Sophia lays her head on Tyler's shoulder as he clicks on the TV.

 

EXT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Zane pulls his keys out of his pocket.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                The Stedman House?

 

                                                ZANE

                They still call it that?

                                                ADRIENNE

                What do you mean, "still"?

 

                                                ZANE

                I lived here for a year. A long, long time ago. I remember that this was the Old Haunted Stedman Place.

 

Adrienne shivers, despite the warm night.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                It's not really haunted.

 

                                                ZANE

                                (opens door)

                Sure.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Thanks.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - CONTINUING

 

Zane closes the door. He tosses his wallet and keys on a sleeping bag on the floor.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                You think it's haunted?

 

                                                ZANE

                Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. But there's some serious energies in here. I like that. Gives me a rush.

 

Adrienne looks around the old dusty house and shivers again. She walks into the hallway.

 

Zane walks up behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders. Adrienne jumps involuntarily.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler had nightmares about this place.

 

                                                ZANE

                Hmm. Wonder why.

 

Zane strikes a match. He lights a candle and a stick of incense.

 

                                                ZANE

                The thing about nightmares ... you can wake up.

Adrienne backs into a wall.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What are you saying?

 

                                                ZANE

                Nothing. We came to psychoanalyze me. Please. Sit.

 

Adrienne slides down the wall and pulls her knees close to her.

 

                                                ZANE

                Fine. I'll just sit here. If that's all right with you?

 

Adrienne nods nervously.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I'm going to call Tyler.

 

                                                ZANE

                Why?

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I promised him I'd come over tonight. He'll be worried.

 

Adrienne pushes speed dial on her cell phone. Tyler's answering machine picks up.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

Tyler and Sophia snuggle deep into the sofa. The answering machine picks up.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                                (on Answering Machine)

                Tyler pick up. I'm at the Stedman Place -

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Zane pulls the phone away from Adrienne. He turns it off.

 

                                                ZANE

                What did you have to go do that for? Now he won't be surprised.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What are you doing?

                                                ZANE

                There's only one nightmare in this house. Adrienne ... you can't wake up.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

Tyler looks at the answering machine.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                She's probably pulling your leg.

 

                                                TYLER

                No. She wouldn't do that.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Why would she go to the Stedman House? Why would anyone want to go to that creepy old place?

 

Tyler gets up from the couch. He reaches for his wallet.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler. This is our time. Don't let her get in the way.

 

Tyler hesitates.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You want to know why I didn't stop to talk to you when we were in High School? Because I didn't think that you -

 

Anger and frustration darken her face.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I didn't think that you were ... I thought that you were too good for me. You got good grades. Everyone knew you were a genius. I felt like a complete idiot whenever I passed you in the hall. That's why my friends always made fun of you.

 

Tyler puts down his wallet.

 

                                                TYLER

                Adrienne is my friend.

                                                SOPHIA

                She'll be there in the morning. Tyler, please. I'm here now. Just let it be you and me. Please.

 

Sophia click off the TV.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Show me who you really are.

 

Tyler disappears into his bedroom, unbuttoning his shirt.

 

Sophia follows him halfway down the hallway. He stops her in the doorway. His shirt lies on the floor behind him.

 

Sophia gasps at the wicked scars crossing Tyler's chest and stomach.

 

                                                TYLER

                I have no memory of where I got these. Adrienne's mother found me behind the tree in their backyard. I was delirious from blood loss. That's what she told my mom.

 

Sophia reaches out gingerly to touch the scars.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Do they hurt?

 

                                                TYLER

                Only in my head.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You don't remember anything?

 

                                                TYLER

                Barbed wire.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It must have ripped right through the shirt.

 

                                                TYLER

                I wasn't wearing anything. Adrienne's mom found me covered with blood. Nothing else.

 

Sophia puts her hand on Tyler's heart.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Why?

                                                TYLER

                Just another nameless victim of ritual abuse.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Didn't the police do anything?

 

                                                TYLER

                There wasn't any investigation. They called it classic parental abuse.

 

Tyler pulls Sophia into his room. He flops down on his bed. She sits on the edge. Her face shows confusion and concern.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                So why wasn't there an investigation?  Didn't they question your parents?

 

                                                TYLER

                My dad died that morning. Freak accident. Swerved to miss a raccoon. Rolled the car down into the river.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Did he do this to you?

 

Tyler closes his eyes, trying to remember.

 

                                                TYLER

                I don't know.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                How could someone do that to a child?

 

                                                TYLER

                He knew about it. I know he did.

 

Sophia smiles hopefully at Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But you're okay. You're big and strong. Nobody can hurt you anymore.

 

Sophia picks up a sketch pad from the floor and leafs through it.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You mind?

No answer.

 

She looks through the pictures she saw last night - the fantastic lands, comic heroes, and her.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                This one is pretty.

 

Tyler opens his eyes. He reaches for the sketch pad.

 

                                                TYLER

                I didn't think you'd ever see that.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's good. Sexy. It's very flattering. Most guys would've left the sheet out.

 

                                                TYLER

                You're worth more than that. You're not just an object to be admired.

 

Sophia mimics the expression in the picture and laughs.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I wanted to surprise you last night. I wanted to give you this, for real.

 

Tyler takes the sketch pad. The NOTE falls out.

 

                                                TYLER

                I know. Thanks. It was just a little too much last night.

 

Tyler unfolds the note.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                That's not from me, is it? No, that's not my writing.

                                (looks around)

                So you didn't get my note this morning? Was anyone else here?

 

                                                TYLER

                Adrienne.

 

Tyler reads the note silently.

 

Sophia's face registers anger, but Tyler doesn't see.

                                                TYLER (V.O.)

                                (reading)

                "To Tyler Gracen. I know that you probably won't find this for a long time, but I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I owed a lot of people a lot of money. I thought that I could protect you and your mother. I guess I couldn't. You're not in your room tonight. I can guess where you are. I'm sorry. I won't see you again. Please know that I do what I do to save you and your mother. If you ever stop by hell, look me up. Your father, Bill Gracen."

 

Tyler crumples the paper. On a corner, it reads "STEDMAN HOUSE. FIREPLACE."

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I left you something last night. Did you get it?

 

                                                TYLER

                No.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What did the note say?

 

                                                TYLER

                That bastard knew about it. He let them hurt me.

 

Sophia reaches out for the note. She quickly reads it. She also sees the note on the back about the Stedman House.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You don't know that. It could be from anyone.

 

                                                TYLER

                It was in a picture frame that he had. That I got when my mom left.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I want you to close your eyes.

 

Sophia presses her fingers to Tyler's eyes.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Just relax.

Sophia pulls a blanket up in front of her. She drops her overall straps down off her shoulders.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Let me model for you.

 

Tyler opens his eyes. Sophia's shirt is still visible above the sheet. She smiles hopefully at him.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Don't let the past ruin your future. Just let tonight be tonight.

 

                                                TYLER

                "Let the morrow take thought of itselt. Sufficient is the day to the evil thereof."

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Sure. If you say so.

 

Tyler forces a smile and picks up his sketch pad and charcoal.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Pretend it's an art class. Lori's told me about some of her art classes. I thought a few times about being a model for that.

 

                                                TYLER

                I hoped a few times that you would. There's only so much fun you can have drawing a ... someone not as aesthetically pleasing as you.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'll take that as a compliment. What do you want me to do? Pose me, Da Vinky.

 

                                                TYLER

                Da Vinci.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Him, too. Let me be your Moaning Lisa.

 

Tyler takes a seat on his chair and looks at her.

                                                TYLER

                Get comfortable. Tilt your head just a little. Good. Move your right hand back. Onto your leg. Could you move your hair down over your left shoulder? Wow.

 

Tyler draws with quick, sure strokes.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Zane circles around Adrienne in the kitchen. Adrienne's hands are tied behind her. A gag covers her mouth. Tears streak her cheeks.

 

                                                ZANE

                You're a beauty, Adrienne. Very foxy. But you're just another pretty face for the picture books.

 

Zane empties Adrienne's purse onto the floor in front of her. Various items, including Sophia's thong, clatter to the ground.

 

                                                ZANE

                Spare? Seems odd to carry around an extra thong. Maybe you were planning on using it later tonight? You just might get the chance.

 

Zane sorts through the other junk from her purse. He picks up all the coins and puts them into his pocket.

 

                                                ZANE

                I just love old coins. You know, it's amazing how many people don't use pennies. I happen to like them very much. I live to see the cashier's face when I pay for anything with just pennies. Priceless.

 

He finds the note from Sophia.

 

                                                ZANE

                                (continuing; reading)

                "Thanks for tonight. Call me, 555-6182." And it's in Sophia's handwriting. Is that where you got those? I wonder if Sophia has a little secret she wants to share. Shall we call her?

 

Zane dials Sophia's number on his phone.

 

                                                ZANE

                Hello, is Sophia there?

 

Lori answers.

 

                                                LORI

                No, she's not. Who's this?

 

                                                ZANE

                Zane Opal. I'm a friend of hers.

 

                                                LORI

                Oh, yeah. She told me that you're wonderful.

 

                                                ZANE

                Well, thank you. I like to think so. Who is this?

 

                                                LORI

                I'm Lori. Her roommate.

 

                                                ZANE

                Lori, I wonder if you know where Sophia went?

 

                                                LORI

                She's on a date. Some pathetic sap who's had it on for her since seventh grade.

 

                                                ZANE

                Since seventh grade? This must be a mercy date that even Mother Theresa would be proud of.

 

Adrienne's eyes widen in horror.

 

                                                ZANE

                Do you have a number where I can reach her?

 

                                                LORI

                Don't you have her cell number?

                                                ZANE

                Of course. Silly me. I'll call her cell. Thank you, Lori. I hope that when I have the chance to meet you in person, you are as pretty as your voice. Bye.

 

Zane turns around to Adrienne.

 

                                                ZANE

                Sounds like your boy's got a date with my girl. Somebody's going to get a spanking.

 

Zane slams his hand down on the counter next to Adrienne. She jerks away.

 

                                                ZANE

                Maybe you'll be my whipping girl tonight. Do anything for little Tyler. Oh, those pretty eyes say don't hurt him. How sweet.

 

Zane slaps Adrienne across the face. Tears drop from her eyes.

 

Zane dials Sophia's number.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

Sophia's cell phone rings. She glances out the door at it.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Can I get that?

 

                                                TYLER

                I need to stretch my fingers anyway.

 

Sophia jumps up and runs into the living room. Her overalls drop down around her waist. She grabs them before they fall further.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                No peeking.

 

                                                TYLER

                I'm a professional here. It's only courtesy.

 

Sophia dives onto the couch with her phone.

                                                SOPHIA

                Hello?

 

Zane speaks on the other end.

 

                                                ZANE

                Well, if it isn't my beautiful little Sophia.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane! I am so glad to hear from you. I tried to call you earlier -

 

                                                ZANE

                I was with a client. How are you doing? I called your apartment, but you weren't there.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm with a friend.

 

She glances back at Tyler and smiles.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He's a really great guy. He's drawing my picture.

 

                                                ZANE

                An artist? I thought you went for moody goths like me.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Don't be silly. You're not goth anymore.

 

Behind her, Tyler stiffens. A memory flashes in his mind - White painted face with black eyes and lips, whispering, "Shh. It's our little secret."

 

                                                ZANE

                I've got a property that I'm looking at purchasing here. I was wondering if you want to come over for a little housewarming?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Love to.

 

                                                ZANE

                Great. Here's the address -

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Wait. Now?

                                                ZANE

                Problem?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's One a.m.

 

                                                ZANE

                You're up. Oh, I get it. You're in the middle of a date, and you haven't worked your magic yet.

 

Sophia glances back at Tyler. He walks slowly back to his room.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He's not like that.

 

                                                ZANE

                Gay?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Hardly. He's a good one this time.

 

                                                ZANE

                Look, Sophie, I'm leaving town at dawn. Take it or leave it. But don't expect me to come back. You want to see me, come now. If not, I guess this is goodbye.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                All right. What's the address?

 

Sophia writes down the address on her hand.

 

                                                ZANE

                615 South Baker. See you soon, beautiful.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Bye.

 

Sophia turns and looks back at Tyler's bedroom.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Tyler?

 

Tyler sits on his bed, staring wistfully at the sketch pad. Sophia appears in the doorway. She pulls one of her overall straps over a shoulder.

                                                SOPHIA

                That was an old friend.

 

                                                TYLER

                A guy.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Yeah. Zane. He's having a little housewarming and invited me.

 

                                                TYLER

                Do you need me to guess?

 

Sophia sits next to him.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                We'll finish this tomorrow. Okay? Tyler, he's leaving first thing in the morning.

 

                                                TYLER

                What about letting tonight just be tonight? What about this? Us?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Is there an "Us?"

 

Tyler rips the drawing out of the sketchbook.

 

                                                TYLER

                I guess not. Go. Go find your friend. If you need him that bad, go.

 

Sophia looks at the picture. It is a perfect likeness of her posed - only it has angel wings.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Thank you.

                                (smiles)

                I don't deserve you.

 

Sophia bends down and kisses Tyler on the lips.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'll be back soon.

 

Tyler doesn't even look up as she walks out.

EXT  STEDMAN HOUSE - NIGHT

 

Sophia looks at the address on her hand. 615 South Baker. The Old Creepy Stedman House.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Old goths never die. They just buy creepy houses and think about death.

 

She KNOCKS on the door.

 

No answer.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane?

 

She pushes the door open a crack and peeks inside.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - CONTINUING

 

Sophia closes the door softly behind her.

 

The atmosphere in the room discourages noise.  Accordingly, Sophia whispers for her friend.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane? I'm here.

 

She creeps through the dark house toward the kitchen.

 

A balloon POPS! Sophia screams and drops her purse. She whirls around.

 

Zane lets another balloon go.  It races around the room before landing at Sophia's feet.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You scared the crap out of me.

 

                                                ZANE

                Had it coming.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't think so. You're more likely trying to get in my pants again.

 

                                                ZANE

                                (holds up thong)

                Been there. Done that.

Sophia holds up a finger to stop him from approaching.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Oh no. Don't even pretend that you've been watching me. I don't know what you're talking about. Those probably aren't even mine.

 

                                                ZANE

                How is little Tyler? Tell you any scary childhood stories?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He was drawing my picture.

 

Zane steps uncomfortably close.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Could you step back please? You're really freaking me out.

 

Zane's breath warms Sophia's ear.

 

                                                ZANE

                I thought you were happy to see me.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What is wrong with you? I thought you were going to be cool, like you used to be.

 

                                                ZANE

                Like I used to be?  You were fourteen.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Yeah ... but you were cool back then.  I dunno.

 

Zane smiles wistfully.

 

                                                ZANE

                You haven't changed a bit. You still have no idea what I am.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You're Zane. You've always been Zane. That's all you are.

 

                                                ZANE

                Oh, but Zane holds so many mysteries. Questions that beg to be answered. Answers that yearn for the questions to be asked.

 

Zane leans in and chops his teeth at Sophia's hair.

 

Sophia backs quickly away and scoots toward the front door.

 

Zane grabs her by the wrist and pulls her back.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Let go of me!

 

                                                ZANE

                Housewarming's just getting started. You're not going anywhere, Sophie. Not ever again.

 

Sophie slashes out at Zane's face with her nails. She catches him on the cheekbone, drawing blood.

 

Zane loses his grip momentarily. Sophia runs toward the door. A light from under a doorway down the hall draws her attention ...

 

And Zane grabs her again!

 

He twists her arms around behind her and loops the thong around her wrists.

 

                                                ZANE

                I always wanted you to know the truth about me.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                What? That you're a sick pervert?

 

                                                ZANE

                That's just the beginning, love.

 

Zane marches Sophie down the hallway into the DEN.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - DEN - CONTINUING

 

Sophia freezes in the doorway. Adrienne looks up in horror at her.

 

                                                ZANE

                There. That's just what I wanted to see. Recognition. Can't hide that from these keen eyes. Like an eagle.

                                (taps side of head)

                I've been thinking a long while about how to frost this cake.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                On top of this, you baked, too?

 

Adrienne shoots Sophia a "stop it" glance, but Sophie ignores it.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You're sick. We can get help. I know a great therapist. She's helped a lot of people in town. I'm not supposed to know that, but I do ... I can't tell you how, though.

 

Zane smacks Sophia in the back of the head.

 

                                                ZANE

                Even as a kid you talked too much. Be a good girl and sit down like Adrienne.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I will not.

 

Zane grabs one of Sophia's fingers and twists it, driving her to her knees.

 

                                                ZANE

                You will.

 

Zane sits cross-legged in front of the two girls.

 

                                                ZANE

                This couldn't be more perfect. One blonde, one brunette. Two girls. All we're missing is the boy you both love. Awww. Don't worry. He'll be here soon enough.

 

Zane whips out Adrienne's cell phone.

 

                                                ZANE

                Adrienne, dear, you did have Tyler's number on speed dial, didn't you? Ah, here it is.

Tears well up in Adrienne's eyes. She lunges against the bonds in the chair. The chair falls forward, and she crashes hard on the floor - right in front of Zane.

 

                                                ZANE

                Shh. It's ringing.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

The phone rings. Tyler looks over at it from his seat on the floor. The answering machine picks up.

 

                                                ZANE

                                (on machine)

                Hello, Tyler. Remember me? Of course you do. How could you forget? A dark night, just like tonight. You sneaky little boy, wandering around in the woods all alone. Maybe trying for your little girlfriend's house. But you never made it ... at least not whole.

 

That gets Tyler's attention. He leaps up and stares down in horrified anger at the answering machine.

 

                                                ZANE

                I've got your attention by now, I'm sure. How would you like to finish our little secret game that we started eighteen years ago?

 

Tyler's hand trembles as he reaches for the phone, but can't quite grab it. Angry tears stream from his eyes as the emotions churn within.

 

                                                ZANE

                I want to see you cry like a little boy.

 

                                                TYLER

                You bas- ... I hate you!

 

                                                ZANE

                You know the place. I've got two girls here who are dying to see you.

 

Tyler seethes in rage. Eighteen years of pent-up hurt and anger strain to get out.

                                                ZANE

                                (continuing; whispering)

                Tyler, you there? Let me here you scream. Just once.

 

Tyler rips the phone off the hook. His primal scream echoes in the small apartment.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - DEN - SAME TIME

 

Zane holds the cell phone up so that both girls can hear Tyler's scream. He laughs.

 

                                                ZANE

                Let the suicide game begin.

 

INT  TYLER'S APARTMENT - SAME TIME

 

Tyler rips through his drawers. He pulls a KNIFE and sticks it in his pants. Pulls on a sweatshirt with baggy sleeves. Sticks FISHOOKS in the sleeves (away from his skin).

 

Tyler stops to look at himself in the mirror. Tear streaks run down his face. An anguished, tortured little boy stares out of an adult's eyes.

 

He pulls the knife from his pants. Pokes the tip of his thumb, drawing a drop of blood.

 

                                                TYLER

                First blood was yours. Last blood is mine.

 

He presses his thumb against the mirror, and leaves a bloody thumbprint as the door slams.

 

EXT  STREET - NIGHT

 

Tyler runs out into the dark night. Fog rises from the ground, blanketing the ground in ghostly raiment.

 

An OWL hoots a warning cry. Tyler presses on. He wipes the mixture of tears and perspiration from his face with his shoulder, careful to keep his face far away from his fishook-sleeves.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Zane stares into a mirror as he applies white face paint. He paints his lips black and deep shadows under his eyes. He adds a small "X" below his left eye (covering the fingernail scratches from Sophia).

He runs his fingers through his dark hair.

 

                                                ZANE

                Marylin Manson never looked so good.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - DEN - CONTINUING

 

Zane pauses in the doorway to relish the looks on the two girls' faces.

 

Sophia pushes backwards against Adrienne to help her back up.

 

They stare in horrified fascination at the monster standing before them.

 

                                                ZANE

                The face you fell in love with, Sophia. Or should I say "lust"?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I hate you.

 

                                                ZANE

                Tsk. You're just saying that because I broke your heart.

 

Sophia twists around and jumps to her feet. Her hands still tied behind her back, she stares face to face up at Zane.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I hope Tyler kills you.

 

                                                ZANE

                Now you're getting it. Blood for blood. Innocence for innocence. Not that any of us are really innocent here.

                                (looks at Adrienne)

                Though some of us pretend very well.

 

Zane bends over to pull Adrienne's chair to its feet. She KICKS Zane in the shins.

 

Sophia kicks Zane in the side, knocking him to the ground.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Damsels one. Goths ... two. Crap.

 

Zane smiles as he rolls to his feet. He cracks his knuckles as he stretches his fingers.

                                                ZANE

                So you did it. I didn't know if you had it in you, Sophie. I was beginning to think that you were going to be on my side.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I never loved you. Never. I was stupid.

 

Adrienne pulls against her bonds. She gnaws at her gag, trying to free herself. She grunts and tries to speak, but the words come out garbled.

 

Zane opens his hands up wide, unthreatening.

 

                                                ZANE

                I don't think you were stupid. I loved you. You were, and still are, incredibly beautiful. You're a rare flower. A rose in a cemetary. A silken petal in the morning dew.

 

His words sting Sophia, but she needs to hear them. She softens as the tears fill her eyes. She's a whore to her emotions - a traitor to common sense. But she needs him ... and she always will.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't want this again.

 

                                                ZANE

                I think you do. I think you need it. Don't you?

 

Zane steps in close and caresses Sophia's face. He wipes away a teardrop from her cheek.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane, please ...

 

Zane puts his finger on her lips, silencing her. He lifts her chin to look into Sophia's eyes.

 

                                                ZANE

                Do you remember that game we used to play?

 

Sophia nods mutely.

 

                                                ZANE

                I think it's time to play again.

Sophia's gaze shifts to Adrienne, and her eyes drop guiltily.

 

Adrienne's eyes widen, as she realizes her desperate situation.

 

A POUNDING at the door.

 

                                                TYLER (O.S.)

                Open this door, you bastard!

 

Sophia's eyes brighten as she looks toward the pounding.

 

Zane grabs her chin gently and turns to stare deeply into Sophia's eyes.

 

                                                ZANE

                He may have drawn you. Probably drew you a lot before. In all sorts of nasty things. He's a guy. Yes, he might be an artist ... but you, Sophia, are MY work of art.

 

Sophia looks out to the pounding noise. She squeezes her eyes closed as if to wake up from this nightmare.

 

                                                ZANE

                You left him for me, remember? You betrayed him. Only bad girls leave their friends behind.

 

Sophia nods. A tear drops to the floor.

 

                                                ZANE

                But we can make it better. All right? You're my girl. And you always have been.

 

Zane unties Sophia's hands.

 

                                                ZANE

                Untie her.

 

Sophia unties the gag on Adrienne's mouth.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler!

 

                                                ZANE

                Showtime.

EXT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Tyler pounds on the door. He pounds on the windows.

 

                                                ADRIENNE (O.S.)

                Tyler!

 

Tyler throws his shoulder into the door. No use. It won't budge. It's bolted securely from inside.

 

Tyler races around the house, checking every window. Each one is locked. They all have bars on them.

 

                                                TYLER

                Adrienne! Let her go!

 

Tyler pounds on the side of the house in frustration.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - DEN - CONTINUING

 

Sophia unties Adrienne's hands. Adrienne bolts for the door. Zane grabs her around the waist and swings her back into the center of the room.

 

                                                ZANE

                Not so fast, my pet. He has to come rescue you. That's the way the story goes. The handsome prince has to rescue the damsel in distress. Don't you read fairy tales? Every child loves fairy tales. But you probably had the perfect childhood. Never met the "big kids" down the street. Never got pulled into one of their weird rituals. We're here to change all that.

 

The POUNDING outside the house gets closer.

 

                                                ZANE

                Everything's locked, Tyler. Except one. You know the way in. "Beneath the ground, the circle's found. The grave's aflame. Say the name. Thy will be done. Let's have some fun."

 

EXT  STEDMAN HOUSE - SAME TIME

 

Tyler stares at the cellar entrance. Dark memories flood back as he stares at the loathesome doorway.

CHANTING VOICES echo in Tyler's memory. He struggles against the imaginary hands, forcing him down into the cellar. A child's voice cries out in terror.

 

                                                CHANTING VOICES

                "Beneath the ground, the circle's found. The grave's aflame. Say the name. Thy will be done. Let's have some fun."

 

Tyler shivers in terror. He searches the house for some other way. He looks toward the woods, hoping, praying for his resolve to crack, so that he can run and hide.

 

                                                TYLER

                No. I don't deserve this. I don't want to go down there again. They'll hurt me.

 

TYLER'S VISION

 

Before his eyes, the cellar doors FLY OPEN!

 

Evil laughter rolls out of the darkness surrounding him and pulling him into the pit. Tyler screams as he falls and the cellar doors close above him.

 

REALITY

 

Tyler snaps to his senses. He grits his teeth and pulls open the cellar doors.

 

                                                TYLER

                Hell is a state of mind. It's not real. None of it is real.

 

Tyler steps down into the cellar.

 

As he reaches the bottom of the stairs, the doors SLAM SHUT!

 

Sophia snaps a padlock into place, bolting the cellar doors tight.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I'm sorry, Tyler. I wanted to be ... but I'm a bad girl. And bad girls have to play the game.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - CELLAR - CONTINUING

 

Stumps of candles flicker, giving their dying light to the unholy sanctuary. Remnants of past rituals decay on the strangely clean floor.

Tyler warily steps over the powder designs on the floor. Dark remembrances awaken within his forgotten memories.

 

Sounds of slaps, cries, screams, and harsh laughter echo in his mind. The dark corners bear silent witness of unspeakable atrocities entertained here.

 

WHISPERS crowd his memories to the background. Imagined horrors duck behind every shadow.

 

                                                WHISPERS

                                (repeating)

                He's here. He's back. He's here.

 

Tyler crosses the cellar floor quickly. A light shows under the door at the top of the stairs. It CREAKS open.

 

Light footsteps pause halfway down the stairs. Tyler ducks back into the shadows.

 

A FEMALE SILHOUETTE peers into the darkness.

 

Trying to disguise her voice, Sophia whispers to Tyler.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You have to go. He knows you're in here. He'll kill you. I don't want you to die.

 

Sophia steps to the bottom of the stairs.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't want him to hurt you. I don't want you to be locked down here again.

 

Tyler steps from the shadows. The memories come back of the doors locking behind him in his childhood.

 

An ECHO of a child POUNDING on the doors hammers into Tyler's memory.

 

                                                TYLER

                Again? How did you know I was locked in here?

 

Sophia backs up a step. Her heel hits the bottom stair and she loses her balance, falling onto the stairs.

 

                                                TYLER

                How did you know?

The light spilling onto the stairway darkens, blocked by Zane.

 

                                                ZANE (O.S.)

                Because I told her to. Bad girls have to play the game.

 

Tyler squints upward into the light. All he can see is Zane's shadow.

 

                                                ZANE

                We live by the rules and we die by the rules, Tyler. Life eats us up and spits us out, and leaves us to die. It's only about the scars we get in the process.

 

Tyler's fists clench.

 

                                                ZANE

                And you have lived quite a life.

 

                                                TYLER

                What did you do to her?

 

                                                ZANE

                No more, and no less, than I've done to anyone else. Look on her. What do you see?

 

Tyler looks down at Sophia.  She can't even meet his gaze. Her guilt and her need for Zane refuse to allow Tyler to see her true colors.

 

                                                TYLER

                Sophia ...

 

                                                ZANE

                Before you grovels a whore. She's mine. And she always will be. Whatever you think you saw.  Whatever you believe her to be ... you're wrong. Stolen innocence does that to a soul.

 

Zane crouches down next to Sophia and pulls her head up to look into his face.

 

                                                ZANE

                Especially a child's soul. But you know all about that, don't you, Tyler?

                                                TYLER

                Whatever you did in the past, whatever you're trying to do now, it's between you and me, freak. Leave her out of it.

 

                                                ZANE

                She locked you in, remember? It's locked now, just like old times.

 

Tyler steps back and puts up his fists.

 

                                                TYLER

                All right. You and me. Here and now, we decide it.

 

                                                ZANE

                You want to fight?

 

                                                TYLER

                C'mon. Coward. Or do you only fight children? Children who can't fight back, so you rape them and scar them.

 

                                                ZANE

                Your scars are your own to bear. You would have never seen the sunrise ... but for a mistake.

 

Zane jerks Sophia's head backwards, cracking it into the wall.

 

                                                ZANE

                Somebody told. Somebody was a bad girl.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane, please, you're hurting me.

 

                                                ZANE

                You wanted little Tyler to be safe, so you went and told.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I didn't. I swear. It wasn't me.

 

Zane's fingers clench in Sophia's hair. She sobs in pain and horror as he pulls tighter.

 

                                                ZANE

                The old man said the boy was ours. And you had to go tell.

                                                SOPHIA

                I don't know what you're talking about. It was only a bad dream.

 

Zane lowers his face close to Sophia's.

 

                                                ZANE

                This is a bad dream.

 

He kisses her cheek, then spits on her face. He drops his hand from her hair. She collapses to the stairs, sobbing.

 

                                                TYLER

                What the hell did you do to me?

 

                                                ZANE

                I scarred you. You're my masterwork. And you would have lived forever.

 

                                                TYLER

                Then take me now, freak-bomb. See if you're man enough to mess with this boy now.

 

Zane steps over Sophia to the floor. He stands taller than Tyler by two inches. His makeup-whitened face stares eerily down at the shorter man.

 

                                                ZANE

                I was a bruiser before you were born.

 

                                                TYLER

                And I'll still be scarred after you die. Your point?

 

                                                ZANE

                I made you what you are today. I'm more father to you than that man ever was. You owe everything to me. You think your dark stories come from you? Ha. They come from me - haunting in the darkest corners of your mind. Screaming at you to let me out. Let me out and hurt somebody else.

 

Sophia creeps up the stairs.

                                                ZANE

                You think you love her for her heart? Look at that body. That's what you want. That's what you want to hurt. To cut and rip. To scar. That's what you want. Because of me.

 

Zane circles Tyler. Tyler stands rigid, unable to move. Unable to fight. Zane's words pierce Tyler to a center deeper than he has ever admitted.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                Zane, please, don't do this. You've hurt him enough.

 

                                                ZANE

                You know your part, Sophia. You're a bad girl. If you ever want me to love you again, you'll play the game. Go to Adrienne and teach her about the game.

 

                                                TYLER

                Where's Adrienne?

 

                                                ZANE

                Now you want her, too. You can't even manage one, let alone two.

 

Tyler lifts his eyes. The cold fire burns deep in them.

 

                                                TYLER

                Where is Adrienne?

 

                                                ZANE

                That's what I wanted to see. There it is - the fire. That's what I wanted to see all those years ago when you screamed. When I cut you, I wanted you to hate me. But you only cried.

 

Tyler swings at Zane. Zane sidesteps the blow and grabs Tyler's forearm -

 

The FISHOOKS pierce Zane's fingers!

 

Zane rips his hands away, leaving chunks of his fingers hanging on Tyler's sweatshirt.

                                                ZANE

                You son-of-a- what did you do to my hands?

 

Tyler punches Zane in the face.

 

                                                TYLER

                Maybe it'll scar.

 

He backhands Zane, throwing him into the wall.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - BEDROOM - SAME TIME

 

Sophia creeps into the bedroom. She looks down at Adrienne, tied to the bed.

 

A BLINDFOLD covers Adrienne's face.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I never wanted this to happen.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Why are you doing this? You're better than this, Sophia.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I can't. He's ... Zane. That's what he is.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Tyler is going to kill him.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                I know.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Then why aren't you helping him?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's the game.

 

Adrienne pulls against her bonds. She shakes her head back and forth to loosen the blindfold.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                What game?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                He told you already. The suicide game. We're all going to die.

                                                ADRIENNE

                And you're just going to let him kill you?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                No.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                Then what?

 

                                                SOPHIA

                It's part of the game, Adrienne. You have to play.

 

Sophia picks up a SCALPEL from Zane's duffel bag on the floor.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                You've been a bad girl. You let Tyler down. You hurt him.

 

                                                ADRIENNE

                I did not. I would never hurt Tyler. I swear. I swore to him - I promised him that I would never hurt him.

 

                                                SOPHIA

                But you did. You did the worst thing possible. You betrayed your love. You made him love me.

 

INT  STEDMAN HOUSE - CELLAR - SAME TIME

 

Tyler reels backwards from a hard left to the jaw.

 

                                                ZANE

                I think I'll make her into a necklace. Tan the scars. Braid her hair.

 

Tyler wipes blood off his mouth.

 

                                                ZANE

                It's too late for you to save her. Your little vengeance quest has killed your friend.

 

A BLOODCURDLING SCREAM sounds from upstairs.

 

Tyler bolts for the stairs, but Zane is a step ahead of him. He throws Tyler into the wall and drives his knee into Tyler's stomach.

-----

 

Sophia locked the door before, but she didn't snap the lock tight. She was led away by a masked person. Adrienne ran up and unlocked the bolt. She took the lock and buried it underneath the tire swing.

 

Tyler's father was in the shady business of fetish art. His obsessions led him deeper and deeper into the darkness. By the time he realized what was happening, he had lost control of everything. His wife threatened divorce. His seven-year old son didn't even know who he was anymore. Furthermore, the dark powers were going to kill him if he didn't provide them with another name.  (he had already sentenced three people to their doom by giving their names - he had their information from his social service work; he thought that nobody would miss them.  No investigations were underway, no accusations had been made; thanks to an easily bribed/persuaded/obsessed member of the police.) Tyler's father did everything he could to get out of his contract. But it was signed in his blood, and he had hell to pay. The terms of his contract fell due, and he was not around to pay them. He made a trip out of town the night that he was supposed to pay up.  He had to pay in blood - Tyler.

 

The guilt consumed him. He drove his car off the bridge after rolling it to avoid any thoughts of suicide by the police. He left the note for Tyler in the picture, hoping that he would survive someday to read it.  The cop made sure that it was just reported as a freak accident.

 

Only Adrienne's mom suspected that something was up.  Her oldest daughter had been hearing some strange things in school. She came home with a weird mark one day. Her mother tracked down the culprit, and then followed him one day. There were a lot of whispers and rumors flying that something big was going to happen. Somebody was going to be made immortal.  She went to the old Stedman house the night that it was supposed to happen. She tried to call the police, but their man was on duty that night, and he promised to send somebody out to drive the neighborhood - he didn't.

 

Unknown to her, Adrienne also snuck out, following her mother. She saw Sophia put the lock on the door. She saw that sophia didn't lock it all the way. Adrienne pulled the lock off and ran back into the woods.

 

Adrienne's father and some other fathers in the neighborhood brought their shotguns and kicked the door in. That distracted everything long enough for Tyler to fight his way to the cellar doors. He got out. Zane almost grabbed him. The blood on his ankles was all that saved him.

Zane slipped down the cellar stairs, hitting his chin hard. When he got up, Tyler wasn't in sight. Adrienne was running as hard as she could toward her house to get her mother. Tyler was also running, but he was blind. He crashed into a barbed wire fence.

 

Zane grabbed him and tried to wrestle Tyler down. He pulled him backward along the fence, deepening the gouges. By that time, Adrienne and her mom found them. Adrienne's mom attacked Zane. She used a stick from the ground and cracked him across the face. She batted him in the ear. They fought him off like a lioness.

 

Zane retreated, keeping his face hidden, and trying to staunch the flow of blood from his nose.

 

Adrienne and her mother helped Tyler back to their house. Her mom cleaned him up and bandaged his wounds. She treated him as best she could, and then they drove to a hospital in another city. (she didn't trust any of the people on night shift. That's where she heard the rumblings of this night from.)

 

Tyler got better, but his memories of that night scarred him forever- both physically and emotionally.

 

Adrienne traced his path back through the woods. She found a GI JOE figure - Duke. Out of respect for the silence she promised to her mother, she buried both Duke and the padlock underneath the Tire Swing.

 

 

 

Need to get Duke back from Zane to complete the circle. Tyler needs to come to some sort of final completion with Zane. Probably killing him. He thinks that Adrienne is dead. With his last breath, Zane tells Tyler that his life is meaningless now that his true friend, his one true love is dead. Tyler is overcome by despair and grief, so he presses the knife into his chest, to end his life. At the last moment, Adrienne runs down to the cellar and saves her friend.

 

Tyler buries the knife under the old tire swing. He was going to cut it down, but Adrienne stops him. During the burying of the knife, Tyler finds the lock. They bury the past - the lock, the knife, Duke, and the portrait of Sophia.

 

They come together and end as happily as they can.

 

 

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